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Concert Masterworks

Concert Masterworks

Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances

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Concert Masterworks

Concert Masterworks

Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
Course No.  710
Course No.  710
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Course Overview

About This Course

32 lectures  |  46 minutes per lecture

Have you ever wondered what goes through a composer's mind during those magical weeks and months when a musical composition—something meant to become a listening experience—is being notated on paper? Have you tried to imagine the creative process that boils inside geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Liszt? Or within any composer?

  • Is it pure inspiration?
  • Does a composer hear the music first, before even picking up a pen?
  • Or does the music, in fact, actually begin on that blank sheet of staff paper?

Most important, can lay listeners like us, untrained in the technicalities of music, be taught to open our ears to a composer's creative intentions?

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Have you ever wondered what goes through a composer's mind during those magical weeks and months when a musical composition—something meant to become a listening experience—is being notated on paper? Have you tried to imagine the creative process that boils inside geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Liszt? Or within any composer?

  • Is it pure inspiration?
  • Does a composer hear the music first, before even picking up a pen?
  • Or does the music, in fact, actually begin on that blank sheet of staff paper?

Most important, can lay listeners like us, untrained in the technicalities of music, be taught to open our ears to a composer's creative intentions?

Learn the Art of Listening to Great Music

Can we learn the art of listening, so that great music becomes an even more insightful and pleasurable experience for us?

Dr. Robert Greenberg believes the answer to that last question is "yes."

And now this winner of three Nicola De Lorenzo Prizes in composition, whose music courses in several classical genres are among our most popular, has set out to prove his point once again.

He has created a course designed to give you a new level of sophistication as a music listener—using as his teaching tools some of the most memorable works in all of music.

Gain a New Level of Listening Sophistication

The skills you learn in this course will attune you to intricacies of musical purpose, structure, and narrative content that you will be able to perceive in any piece of music.

Though this is a demanding course, with a deeper look into musical structure than untrained listeners are likely to have experienced, it is not an intimidating one.

Professor Greenberg vividly positions each composition and its composer in the social and musical fabric of its time, so you can understand the music in its proper societal and artistic context.

His descriptions are vivid, evoking dramatic images of:

  • The precocities of young Mozart
  • Beethoven's progress toward his "Heroic" style, as his inner tendencies exaggerated by the turbulent times he lived in
  • The profound sense of caution ingrained in Brahms by his solid middle-class background, and how this influenced his choices of what to publish.

Throughout these lectures, Professor Greenberg includes fascinating details of the musical world in which each composer worked.

Learn Beethoven's Advantage over His Predecessors

You learn, for example:

  • How the piano developed, and how design advances gave Beethoven a profound advantage over his harpsichord-trained predecessors
  • how the 19th-century cult of the individual artist as hero led to the rise of virtuoso superstars such as the legendary Italian violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who revolutionized the art of violin playing and inspired Liszt to become a piano virtuoso second to none
  • how the folk elements used by nationalist composers became part of the shared, common language of concert music, so Dvorák could feel perfectly comfortable using "American" elements in his Symphony no. 9, the New World Symphony, examined in this course.

The core of the course is its superb structural examination of eight of the most brilliant pieces of music ever written, with Professor Greenberg grouping the composers and their compositions into four pairs, each designed to clarify different aspects of music for you.

Part I: The Classical Piano Concerto features:

  • Mozart—Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, K. 503 (1786)
  • Beethoven—Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, the Emperor Concerto (1809).

The emphasis of these lectures is on the musical substance of the concerti themselves—their formal structure, thematic relationships, expressive content, and the role of the piano soloist.

Part II: Nationalism and Expressionism in the Late 19th Century features:

  • Antonín Dvorák—Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony(1893)
  • Richard Strauss—Death and Transfiguration (1889).

Here Professor Greenberg focuses on Dvorák's structural use of conflicting keys to reflect conflicting themes, and on Strauss's tone poem as an example of a "through-composed piece," in which the motives and themes grow out of material that has preceded them.

Part III: Great 19th-Century Violin Concerti features:

  • Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61 (1806)
  • Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77 (1878).

In comparing these two works—the "backbone of the 19th-century violin concerto repertoire"—Professor Greenberg shows how the work of Beethoven, trained in the structures and techniques of 18th-century Classicism, and Brahms, the 19th-century Romantic, so clearly reflect characteristics of the other.

Part IV: Early Romantic-Era Program Music features:

  • Felix Mendelssohn—Incidental Music, op. 61 (1842) and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21 (1826)
  • Franz Liszt—Totentanz (1849).

Here, Professor Greenberg compares Mendelssohn's brilliant and endearing interpretation of Shakespeare's comedy with Liszt's virtuosic example of the Romantic era's fascination with the Gothic and the macabre in his work based on the 14th-century Black Death.

Experience Deep Structural UnderstandingStudying musical composition in this way is an opportunity to penetrate more deeply into the structure of a piece than you've ever done before.

Professor Greenberg likens the experience to understanding great works of architecture. We can see their surfaces and even be moved by their beauty, but unless we are taught to see and comprehend them in our minds, our eyes will be blind to their richest glories:

  • Their construction
  • Their ingenious blending of purpose and technique
  • Their philosophical force.
Learn to perceive most of the aesthetic, structural, expressive, and narrative information a composer builds into a piece of music, dramatically changing your listening experience.

The result? The music you listen to becomes more vivid, life enhancing, exciting, visceral, and altogether compelling.

See New Ways to Plumb Music's Depths

These lectures give you the tools of vocabulary and the structural fundamentals most of us, no matter how much we love music, have never acquired—even if you've taken "music appreciation" or learned to play an instrument at a basic level.

Even more important, you gain a knowledge of the structural conventions original audiences took for granted, allowing you to share the musical experiences those audiences had when they were surprised or challenged by a composer's departure from those conventions.

To ensure you get the most from the lectures, the explorations of each of the masterpieces analyzed are made up of three components:

  • Background: the life, times, personality, and musical stylistic assumptions of the composer under study
  • An extensive examination of the work under study, analyzing its form, themes, thematic relationships, expressive content, and more
  • The WordScore Guide—a unique visual device that allows you to follow the musical narrative as it unfolds before you, even if you can't read a note of music.

With the tools provided by this course, you can understand a composer's surrender to the status quo ... or his defiance of it. And you'll be able to experience, as those first audiences did, the music's full intellectual and expressive impact.

View Less
32 Lectures
  • 1
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 2
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 3
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 4
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 5
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 6
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 7
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 8
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 9
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 10
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 11
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 12
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 13
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 14
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 15
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 16
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 17
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 18
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 19
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 20
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 21
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 22
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 23
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 24
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 25
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 26
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 27
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 28
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 29
    Liszt—Totentanz, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 30
    Liszt—Totentanz, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 31
    Liszt—Totentanz, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 32
    Liszt—Totentanz, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x

Lecture Titles

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Robert Greenberg
Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances

Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions—which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles—performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands.

He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and the Chicago Symphony. For The Great Courses, he has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres.

Professor Greenberg is a Steinway Artist. His many other honors include three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress. He has been profiled in various major publications, including The Wall Street Journal; Inc. magazine; and the London Times.

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Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 25 reviewers.
Rated 4 out of 5 by 8 Mini Courses I enjoy Greenberg's courses. He is wonderfully entertaining and a great teacher. This course almost seems like eight 4-lecture courses that have been grouped together into one 32-lecture course. There was too much repetition of the beginning of Beethoven's 5th. So, that downgraded the course a bit. I understand that picking the 8 works to present is very subjective and completely up to Greenberg. However, I just didn't see how the last piece, Totentanz, fit with the other seven. Were the other seven the pinnacle of each composer's repertoire? Perhaps not. But, to an amateur listener like me, they were all great pieces. Totentanz, on the other hand, seemed pretty lame. To me, it just didn't measure up. So, that downgraded the course as well. I do appreciate the time he takes in each lecture to present details on the life and times of the composers. This not only satisfies my curiosity about them, but it helps put the piece of music in its place in history. I've got the video version of this course and, even though I can read music, I appreciated his following along on the word score on the black board. It makes it much easier for me to follow and, more importantly, understand the points he is making. While it is true that the quality of music from the tape recorder wasn't great, I watched this course to learn about the music and not for a concert-quality experience from my television. Honestly, the sound quality didn't bother me at all. The quality was more than sufficient to understand the points Greenberg was trying to make. After all, it is for the points Greenberg makes that one watches this course. January 29, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Word Scores First of all I am an amateur musician, I play the notes I see on the page, that's about it. I have listened to many of Prof Greenberg's courses, including the composer series, piano works, and How to listen and understand classical music, the best Great Course out there. All I can say is...I love word scores! I love following these in the course book, and it helps me understand the music. I have always loved Dvorak Symphony 9, and am aware of hearing recurring themes, but this course made sense of it all. Please include more word scores in your future lectures for geeks like me....thankfully you have lost the notepad....as for the moustache...with/without....I will leave that up to the Maestro. Thank you Professor Greenberg! December 30, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Best course so far While I have enjoyed almost all the courses, this course on Mozart and Beethoven concerti have been outstanding. I don't think any course has taught me so much. I learnt both music theory, the sonata allegro form, what makes good musical composition, the concerto form, opera, as well as biographical material concerning Mozart and Beethoven. It was fun to hear, it was just a great course. I highly recommend it. December 22, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by Excellent Musical Ellaboration This review will pertain to the audio version. First of all, let me say that I am a devoted Greenberg fan. As a college music major, I can say, in all honesty, that, compared to what I have learned from Professor Greenberg, it makes me question what I really learned in my college music courses. This is about my sixth Greenberg course. If I had taken this course earlier, perhaps I wouldn't hold other courses to very high standards. It was difficult for me to review this course, mainly because it isn't up to the same standards as more recent Greenberg courses. However, I do recognize, that this is to be expected. This course was produced in 1995, and both The Teaching Company, and Dr. Greenberg himself, have matured in so many ways. Here are my major observations about this course: 1# At times, I found the tone quality very distracting. There is a hissing, open, airy sound that is present throughout most of the presentations. Sometimes, when the music is soft, the hissing sound is louder than the music. Even when one tries to tune this out, it still is very annoying. 2) Unlike most of the TTC courses, these lectures can be skipped around, within individual works. There are about two major ways in which the course is set up. One way, is to think of it consisting of 8 different lectures, each of which lasts for 3 hours. The second way is to think of it as being in four different sections: Each section consists of 8 different lectures, of which each lecture is 45 minutes long. Within that context, half of these works are primarily orchestral works, the remaining half are works written for a soloist with orchestra #Concerti) 3) There is much to be learned from this course. Even as a music major, I was able to extract much from these lectures. Although some reviewers were confused as to why Dr. Greenberg would spend so much time on using Beethoven's 5th in order to introduce the Beethoven Violin Concerto, at the conclusion of the 4th lecture on this concerto, I was able to make the connection between these works. I must admit, that, for awhile, I was also asking myself, as to why so much time was devoted to the Beethoven 5th. As the third lecture rolled around, and I could see where the professor was going with this, I looked at this a bit of masterful teaching. 4) There are a few times, when, right in the middle of a lecture, the sound phases out, then re-phrases in again. This might be distracting for some. 5) Although I have not seen the video version, there are several times that Professor Greenberg references items that he has outlined on the board. However, it seems that most of these visuals are well represented in the Word Score guides. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am not a big fan of these Word Scores, I can appreciate the fact, that they are designed for non-music readers. In conclusion, there is much to be gained from purchasing, and completing this course. However, I caution that one should not expect this course to be on the same high quality level, as more recent courses are. This is due to the early release date of this course. Hopefully, if this course continues in the catalog, it will be considered for a major revision. May 8, 2014
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